Gonzaga needs to avoid tiebreakers to get tournament bye
The Gonzaga Bulldogs have a six-game West Coast Conference winning streak. They might have to make it eight to earn a bye into the conference tournament semifinals.
Without getting into every possible scenario, Gonzaga doesn’t sit well should tiebreakers become necessary Saturday night. The Bulldogs (19-9, 9-3) take on Saint Mary’s (22-6, 10-2) in Moraga, Calif., on Thursday and visit San Diego on Saturday.
“Absolutely not,” said Gonzaga head coach Mark Few, when asked if his team has much chance of winning a tiebreaker with Saint Mary’s or San Francisco. “The Portland loss to San Francisco really changed things. It’s a tough break, but we put ourselves here.”
If the Bulldogs finish tied with Saint Mary’s at 11-3, they would earn at least a share of their 11th straight WCC title, but they’d likely be the second seed. The first tiebreaker is head to head, followed by results vs. teams in descending order of conference finish and then RPI according to Collegiate Basketball News. If third-place San Francisco (14-13, 8-4) holds that position – it needs one home win vs. Pepperdine or Loyola Marymount to do so – the Gaels would be the top seed because they swept USF and GU split with the Dons.
There’s not a huge difference between the top two seeds. Both earn byes into the WCC tournament semifinals, where the No. 1 seed typically faces a lower seed.
If the Bulldogs finish tied with USF for second, tiebreakers generally favor the Dons unless Pepperdine can climb up the standings. The exception would be if Gonzaga defeats Saint Mary’s and loses to San Diego and finishes tied with San Francisco. Under that scenario, GU would be the second seed because of its win over Saint Mary’s, which swept USF.
The Bulldogs are focused on the Gaels, who are trying to secure their first conference title since sharing the 1997 crown with Santa Clara.
“Meech (Demetri Goodson) and I were just talking about that,” guard Steven Gray said. “We don’t remember when we had a game like this that meant so much in conference. We want to go out and make the most of it.”
Center of attention
Junior center Rob Sacre’s numbers have dropped considerably the last three weeks. He’s only scored in double figures once in the last seven games.
He said he’s not discouraged because Gonzaga has been winning, but added, “I think teams are trying to eliminate me from getting close to the basket. I just have to work harder.”
“It’s a combination of him not working as hard to get deep enough post position and (not) running as hard as he was,” Few said. “He has to step up and get back to being as aggressive as he was. He posted some really impressive numbers against big-time front lines. He needs to harken back to those memories.”
Few said Sacre has shown some physical and mental fatigue. It’s one of the reasons, as well as a few players, including Sacre and Gray, battling illness recently, that the team hasn’t practiced Sunday or Monday the last few weeks.
“We were sick and tired. We piled up those games, including (nonconference) Memphis,” Few said. “I think it’s really helped us. We’ll do some shooting and individual work and watch a little film, and then gear up on Tuesdays.”